Sometimes hidden treasures exist in what was once the commonplace. A rounded finial from a staricase balustrade. A hand-quilted coverlet. A sprinkler head from fifty years ago. A lacy sundress, trimmed with pink ribbon and eyelet.
As the days and years pass, that which becomes old becomes re-imagined into something new; to be delighted in again though its original purpose may be long past. This is the happy fate of many old objects that become collectible. Old collectibles ebb and flow, but it’s always a delight to see what might be the next hot “hidden treasure.”
Country Sampler magazine’s hottest collectibles range from 1940s sprinker heads to buttons to the ever-appealing women’s and children’s vintage clothing. Sellers have noticed these items are being bought and sold more frequently — luckily it’s often easy to find these “hidden treasures” frugally.
In no particular order, here are the “hottest collectible prospects for 2011”:
Buttons do more than hold clothing together; they’re fast becoming a popular vintage collectible. Visit any flea market (like Kane County), estate sale, antique mall or garage sale and you may find heaps and jars of vintage and antique buttons. What is the appeal? Some love filling jars with buttons for decoration, others utilize them for crafts (like button-studded curtain hems) or sewing projects using vintage materials. Vintage buttons are cheap; wood, plastic, glass, and mother-of-pearl buttons range from 25 cents to a few dollars for one button to six on a card. Bakelite buttons are more costly.
Thrift stores, estate and rummage sales, and flea markets are the best bet for thrifty prices, but deals can be had at the antique stores. Also, don’t pass up vintage clothing with interesting buttons — use both for a decorating project.
Where to go locally
Kane County Flea Market | 525 S Randall Rd | St Charles, IL 60174 | 630-377-2252 | Starting March 5 & 6
DuPage and Grayslake Flea Markets:
Wheaton: DuPage County Fairgrounds | 2015 W. Manchester | Wheaton, IL 60189 | Janurary 15, every 3rd Saturday monthly
Grayslake: 1060 E. Peterson Rd. (Near Midlothian Rd.) | Grayslake, IL 60030 | Next Market: Feb 8-9, 2011
2nd Saturday and Sunday Monthly
Bead World of Palatine sells vintage Czech glass buttons for $1 apiece.
Hand-sewn quilts always seem to fetch high prices even when in fair condition. But there are times these coverlets can be found for less than $200. These coverlets, from handloomed 1800s coverlets to 1940s chenille, enliven a room with their patterns and textures. Signed coverlets from the 1800s dyed with vegetable dyes are most valuable. Try Esty.com or the antique shop for scraps of coverlets that can be sewn into pillows, etc. Imperfect 20th-century-era quilts can be cut up and sewn into new coverlets by the frugal, crafty decorator. Quilts, crocheted bedspreads and chenille coverlets, ranging from $30-$150, are a more affordale alternative. Fluffy chenille or delicate crochet add a sweet touch to a bedroom.
Where to go locally
Colonial Antique Mall | 890 Lake Ave | Woodstock, IL 60098 | 815-334-8960
Oakton Antique Mall | 2430 E Oakton St | Elk Grove, IL 60005 | 847-437-2514
Ridgefield, IL: This small town between Crystal Lake and Woodstock specializes in selling pre-1950s collectibles, primitives and country-style antiques.
Women’s and children’s vintage clothing:
Vintage clothing has long been abundant at flea markets, estate sales and antique stores. Its allure and superior craftmanship give it enduring appeal, whether it’s displayed on the wall or worn every day. Vintage children’s clothing (especially baby clothing) is easily found and makes a sweet display. 1960s to 1980s vintage clothing is more common than it was ten years ago, but pre 1960s vintage can be found with searching. Acessories like purses and furs turn up commonly at estate sales and resale stores; antique stores, flea markets and online dealers have plenty of vintage. Prices for women’s dresses can go from $150 to $300, but everyday dresses can sell for $20-$80. Bargains can be occasionally found at estate sales.
Two of the oldest and best online vintage dealers, online since 1997, are Vintage Vixen and Dandelion Vintage.
View Vintage Vixen’s large collection of value-priced vintage from the 1890s to the 1980s. Dandelion Vintage of New Jersey offers fun, affordable women’s vintage from the 1900s to the ’70s — dresses here cost about $30 to $85. Don’t forget to check out the $20 or less dresses and $1 clearance vintage.
Where to go locally
Oakton Antique Mall, Elk Grove, IL: There are dealers specializing in retro vintage, as well as plenty of women’s vintage and children’s vintage clothing and acessories scattered among the booths.
Factory Vintage | 1043 Chicago Ave | Evanston, IL 60202 (847) 328-7334
This friendly vintage store offers lots of affordable mainly 1960s-1980 era vintage clothing watched over by friendly staff and a content red-and-white cat.
Silver Moon | 1721 West North Ave | Chicago, IL 60622 (773) 235-5797
Owner Liz Logan has collected a stunning collection of vintage clothing, especially formals. It’s a splurge, but worth a visit by the vintage enthusiast. Also notable are the extensive vintage wedding dress selection and vintage clothing restoration service.
Viva Vintage Clothing: Formerly a storefront in Evanston, Viva Vintage’s showroom is open by appointment only, but offers chic, high-quality vintage online 24/7. Call (847) 475-5025 or email email@example.com
Retro sprinkler heads:
This unexpected item is a rising star in the vintage collectibles market. Collectors find them appealing for their sculptural shapes, rusty patina and garden connection. Sprinklers have been made since the 1890s but took off in the 1930s and ’40s. Prices can range from $50 to $85; figural shapes like fish, flowers or frogs will run higher. Try finding them for a bargain at estate sales from older homes, especially those in older suburban neighborhoods. Can’t find it locally? Etsy.com had several retro sprinkers avaliable ranging from $7 to $40.
Tiny cups, from children’s tea sets to demitasse cups are attractive collectibles for their petite elegance. Who doesn’t have room for a tiny cup? They are priced in the same range as full-size tea cups, from $3 to $35. Look for Asian-patterned demitasse cups, made-in-Japan children’s tea sets, ironstone, or painted porcelain. In my experience, tiny cups are not as prevalent as large ones, but antiques dealers usually have one or two tucked away in the cases at their booths.
Where to go locally:
Secret Treaures Antiques | 605 Dempster St | Evanston, IL 60201 | 847-866-6889
Kitchenware, china, crystal, linens, figureines, jewelry, ephemera, midcentry and retro home decor and jewelry without the big-city markup.
Brie’s Gift Gallery | 710 East Northwest Highway | Mount Prospect, IL 60056 | 847-577-5228
Expect to find the occasional Asian-style teacup or child’s tea set sprinked in among the hand-crafted gift items.
Volo Antique Mall | 27640 Volo Village Road | Volo, IL 60073-9613 | 815-344-6062
Oakton Antique Mall, Elk Grove, IL